Khen Van Tran
Khen Van Tran
  • October 20, 1956 - April 23, 2017
  • Aloha, Oregon

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It was the nicest day of 2017, so naturally, Khen Tran loaded up his white Nissan truck with fishing gear on Friday, April 21 and headed to the Oregon coast. If the sun was shining, chances were Khen was doing one of three things: fishing, gardening or building something, but really, nothing called to him like the ocean and the thrill of catching fish.

Plus, on this particular day, there was an extra bonus to the break in what had been an unseasonably wet spring: trying out a pair of fishing waders that he had just purchased. It wasn’t just that the waders were new that excited Khen; it was how he got them. He was a champion bargain hunter, and he scored the waders at 50 percent off, a coupon that he couldn’t help bragging about even as he tried to keep the purchase secret from Ha, his wife of 33 years.

With the new waders and under a 70 degree day, he fished in the waters around Seaside. Often times, he would keep the fish alive or capture frogs and bring them home to his four daughters, two nieces and one nephew to observe.

He stood 5-feet-2, but to his family, and to the Vietnamese community, he seemed 7-feet, held in high regard for his work ethic, morals and generosity. He could be demanding, and expected the best from his four daughters, his stern voice quick to catch their attention. But he could melt them with his smile, and his playful ploys, like giving them a penny for every gray hair they could pluck off his head, or showing them how to whistle while brushing their teeth. (He would take out his dentures and brush them in his hand while whistling).

Much of what he did was for his family. He built swing sets, planned camping excursions and loved nothing more than to eat with a table full of his children. He was most at ease with a house full of family, a contentment that would often send him to his hammock for a nap while laughter and loud talking went on around him.

He was also about friends, and he would make almost daily trips to Carriage House Automotive shop in Beaverton to shoot the breeze and check in on the happenings within his broad inner circle.

But ultimately, he was most at home on the water in one of his seven boats, or in his living room, where he was sure to be in front of the television at 7 p.m. for Jeopardy, then Wheel of Fortune, as well as Family Feud. Recently, he wondered aloud how his girls would fare on Family Feud.

On his last day on the water, he caught seven perch. Content with his catch, and heading home, he suffered a stroke and later passed on April 23 amid the comfort of family and friends.

Born Oct. 20, 1956 in Rach Gia, Vietnam, he pursued a safer life in Oregon, fleeing Vietnam in October of 1978 and landing in Malaysia. Under the sponsorship of Mark And Hoang Grafe, he arrived in Beaverton, Oregon in 1978 and began work as a foreman at Miles Fiberglass & Plastics in Oregon City.

In November of 2012, he became a United States citizen.

He married Ha Chau in April of 1984 and they had three daughters, Thu Thuy, Thu Lan and Thu Trang. Previously, he was married to the now deceased Kim Hai, with whom he had daughter Thu Ba Thi and late son Du-Dan.

He is survived by sister Kho Tran of Rach Gia, Vietnam, brothers Hung, Dung, Tan and Tai of Uster, Switzerland and Manh of Beaverton; nieces Thai Thanh Tran Ortiz and Thai Thao Becker of Beaverton and nephew Cuong Quoc Tran of Beaverton. He had one grandson, Jack Valentine Waltz of Beaverton.